Should I Study Abroad? Everything You Need To Know Before Making Your Decision was originally published on WayUp Guide.
Study abroad programs are an amazing way to experience a new part of the world. They’re a rare opportunity to go in-depth into a foreign culture. Plus, they’re a launchpad for traveling around a new continent (or the world). But there are also risks—both professional and personal—to this kind of travel. So, if you’re wondering, ‘Should I study abroad?’ then we’ve got some answers for you.
Here at the WayUp Guide, we’ve gathered all your questions and the best answers the experts have to offer. After reading this and a little research, you should be able to make a decision with confidence.
Should I Study Abroad?
The first thing to consider about study abroad is whether or not it genuinely interests you. At many schools, there’s a ton of pressure to study abroad, but it’s not right for everyone. So, the first question you should ask yourself is, ‘Do I really want to study abroad?’ And if the answer isn’t a strong yes, then you shouldn’t feel the need to pursue it.
Once you’ve sorted out whether you’re interested in study abroad, there are two other major factors to consider: graduation and finances.
Study abroad programs are far less flexible than a normal semester when it comes to which classes are offered. And if you don’t plan your classes out ahead of time, it can make graduating in four years (or however long you planned) very difficult.
Even though scholarships and financial aid are available for study abroad, there are a ton of hidden costs to the study abroad experience. Stuff like travel, dining out, and basic living necessities come up a lot, and usually cost more (especially in a tourist hotspot or big city).
Does My School Have A Study Abroad Program?
If your school has an established study abroad program, it can make the process much easier. If they do, then they usually have a streamlined process for making sure you can take the right classes and pay for it with financial aid, scholarships, grants, etc.
So, finding out whether your school has a program should always be your first step. Here’s how.
The easiest way to do it—like so many things now—is to Google it. Just type the name of your school plus “study abroad,” and it should bring you to the landing page for your school’s study abroad program (like this one). From there, the world is your oyster. That page should have all the info you could ever want on study abroad. Plus, it will usually give you contact info for a study abroad counselor or program coordinator. You can ask them all the nitty gritty questions about financial aid, campus culture, and beyond.
If something isn’t immediately showing up, then it gets trickier. Your school might not have a whole department of people working on study abroad, but they still might have a program. In this situation, there should still be something turning up on your online search. But if there isn’t, then you should contact your academic advisor. Advisors are on the front line for study abroad everywhere, because they have to make sure it works with your degree.
Can I Still Study Abroad If My School Doesn’t Have A Program?
The short answer is, yes!
Many universities have programs that are open to applications from different schools. Doing the program through another university will usually allow you to get equal (or higher) quality credits for your classes. Plus, you can meet a whole new set of people.
However, this is something you will have to clear with your academic advisor way ahead of time. Other schools have different methods of awarding credits, so coordination can be tricky. So, be sure to get a head start on meeting with your advisor and applying to programs.
Can I Study Abroad And Still Graduate On Time?
Again, the short answer is, yes. Most people who study abroad are able to successfully graduate on time. It can even be a GPA and resume booster, if you play your cards right.
However, there is also a long answer (a very long answer), too. You must speak to your academic advisor and clear everything you take ahead of time. There’s usually a much more limited selection of classes. So, you have to pick carefully and plan around it.
All in all, it’s doable, but you need to plan ahead.
How Much Does Study Abroad Really Cost?
The cost of a study abroad program is so much more than just the price tag on the actual semester. You have to consider the costs of flights, travel, dining out, furnishing your dorm, and so many other things.
Many people end up spending thousands of dollars in addition to whatever tuition they paid. There are, of course, ways to do travel on a budget. (There are even guides for study abroad on a budget). So, it doesn’t have to break the bank.
Depending on your desired location, especially if it’s a big city or tourist hotspot, the costs will vary. Be sure to research, at least generally, the costs of living ahead of time.
If you’re planning on making money once you arrive, there’s a whole web of legal hurdles you’ll have to jump through. Some countries don’t allow temporary students to work. Others will place exorbitant taxes on the money you do make. All that’s to say, DON’T count on making money once you’re there.
DO plan on working or otherwise saving up money ahead of time. That way you can book travel plans early to save on flights and accommodations. You can also make a budget for yourself to stay on track.
Having enough money beforehand can really improve the experience. So, if you want to travel a lot, go out with friends, and try new foods, make sure you can afford it before you sign up.
If you think you can balance budgeting, taking the right classes, and have a genuine interest in foreign travel, then study abroad might be right for you. For all your study abroad FAQs, tips, tricks, and more, check out the WayUp Guide right now!